Nasir Guildbourne-King was not having a good day. The 9-year-old had been having flu-like symptoms, and on the morning of December 17, he passed out. His father, alarmed and worried, rushed him to Connecticut Children’s Emergency Department (ED), driving through a terrible ice storm.
That’s where State Trooper Joe Dorelus met him, one of many troopers giving toys and smiles to kids. And that’s when Nasir’s day got a whole lot better, thanks to the care of the ED staff and the 2019 Connecticut State Police Stuff a Cruiser Toy Drive.
As part of that program, Dorelus, together with his fellow State Police troopers at Troop H, and with the Ambulance Service of Manchester and Aetna Ambulance, had spent most of the previous week collecting toys and $20,690 to support Connecticut Children’s Emergency Department.
On this stormy day, the troopers were giving toys and smiles to the kids in the hospital. Trooper Dorelus showed up at the door to Nasir’s room with a gurney loaded with toys. Nasir got to pick a toy from the pile, and he came away with a real prize: a bright red radio-controlled Ironman motorcycle. However bad he was feeling earlier in the day, he was all smiles now.
Troopers and Toys
Troop H has been putting smiles on the faces of kids like Nasir for the past 23 years. Over that time, they have given the hospital more than half a million toys and generated more than $300,000 for the Emergency Department. They volunteer to do this, using their own time to stand out in the cold to ask people for donations of toys and cash. In 2019, the collection sites were hosted by the Walmart stores in East Windsor, Manchester, Newington and Rocky Hill.
The toys make a difference not only on the distribution day, but all through the year, in the Emergency Department and throughout the hospital. Emergency Department physician John Brancato, MD, gave a pertinent example of the impact of toys on patients when he spoke at the press conference that preceded the toy distribution. He told a story of the time he brought his own daughter to Connecticut Children’s for a procedure. And like many children, she was nervous going in and was offered a toy to distract her.
“She doesn’t remember anything about the procedure,” Dr. Brancato told assembled guests and news crews. “All she remembers is the doll she got there.”
Thanks to the State Police, Aetna Ambulance, Ambulance Service of Manchester, and the extraordinary generosity of the people of Connecticut, a toy that makes a child’s visit to the Emergency Department a little less frightening will be available to thousands of other children throughout the year.
“I’m very proud that this is the 23rd year our state troopers have partnered with Connecticut Children’s for this toy drive,” said Connecticut State Police Colonel Stavros Mellekas. “Our troopers have volunteered their time to collect the toys that will be distributed today, and I am grateful to all of our troopers for making the extra effort to serve the community and in particular the youngest citizens in Connecticut: the patients here. The spirit of the season is alive and well in all of us, and we’re happy to spread the cheer.”